Manchester United v Fulham
FA Cup, Fourth Round (26th January, 2013 – 17:30 KO)
Sir Alex Ferguson on this season’s FA Cup run:“We haven’t done as well in the FA Cup for a few years now. It’s a cup which has fantastic appeal given our record in it. We have benefit of the home draw. We’ll take that any time. It’s going to be a challenge for us but we would play anyone at the moment.”
Jonny Evans and Ashley Young are not quite 100% and will not feature. Other than the long-term absence of Darren Fletcher, Sir Alex has a fully-fit squad (fresh from their mid-season knees-up in Qatar) to choose from. With Southampton at home on Wednesday night, expect a certain amount of rotation. Javier Hernandez is likely to start. United came from behind to win the corresponding Premier League encounter 3-2 back in August.
Predicted United line-up: Lindegaard, Jones, Smalling, Vidic, Buttner, Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Rooney, Welbeck, Hernandez
FA Cup record at home: P192 W124 D36 L32 F397 A170
FA Cup record v Fulham: P13 W7 D4 L2 F23 A14
FA Cup form: W L W L D W
FA Cup 2012/13 so far: West Ham 2-2 United (Third Round), United 1-0 West Ham (Third Round replay)
Fulham manager Martin Jol on his side’s trip to Old Trafford: “Hopefully we can take them back to Craven Cottage but, if it is a one-off, with a little bit of luck we could go to the next round.”
Each week Fulham call upon the mystical powers of their ‘Mystic Chicks’ to predict the upcoming game’s outcome. This week, despite the snow… well, see for yourself: http://youtu.be/TwxgRl5daL0.
Back in the real world, Kerim Frei and Simon Davies miss out through injury, while Mahamadou Diarra is a doubt. Dimitar Berbatov returns to Old Trafford for the first time since his summer move south. The Bulgarian has been in great form for the Londoners, scoring 7 goals and making 3 in his 18 Premier League starts. While he divided opinion during his time at United, expect him to receive an unseasonably warm reception.
Predicted Fulham line-up: Schwarzer, Briggs, Hangeland, Hughes, Riether, Karagounis, Sidwell, Kacaniklic, Dejagah, Ruiz, Berbatov
FA Cup away record: P128 W38 D35 L55 F160 A206
FA Cup form: W L W L D W
FA Cup 2012/13 so far: Fulham 1-1 Blackpool (Third Round), Blackpool 1-2 Fulham (after ET, Third Round replay)
Recent meetings at Old Trafford: United 3-2 Fulham (25-08-12), United 1-0 Fulham (26-03-12), United 2-0 Fulham (09-04-11), United 3-0 Fulham (14-03-10)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg. Has officiated 21 games (in all competitions) this season, dishing out 61 yellow cards and 6 reds. Has awarded 2 penalties (both to home sides).
2012/13 head-to-head (PL)
Goals: (United) 57 – (Fulham) 33
Conceded: 30 – 40
Top scorer: Robin van Persie (18) – Dimitar Berbatov (7)
Assists: Wayne Rooney (7) – Bryan Ruiz (6)
Disciplinary: 40 yellows, 0 reds – 24 yellows, 1 red
Shots per game: 15.3 – 12.6
Average possession: 57.4% – 50.1%
Pass success rate: 86.4% – 82.7%
Best passer: Michael Carrick (80.1/88.1%) – Dimitar Berbatov (47.8/80.4%)
Most appearances: Robin van Persie (20/3) – Sascha Riether (23)
A goal for Wayne Rooney will see him draw level with Ruud van Nistelrooy and Bobby Charlton on a club-record 10 goals v Fulham.
Should Paul Scholes feature he will go level with Bobby Charlton on a club-record 20 appearances v Fulham.
United have won the last 10 matches v Fulham at Old Trafford, scoring 26 times and conceding just 6.
United have scored 2+ goals in 7 of the last 8 matches against Fulham at Old Trafford.
Fulham have dropped 18 points from winning positions this season – the league’s third worst record. United have the best record (24) of points recovered.
Fulham have conceded 25 goals on their Premier League travels this season – the fourth highest in the division. United (30) have the joint-best home attack.
United and Fulham haven’t played out a 0-0 draw since 26th January 1924. (Stat!)
Score prediction: United 2-0 Fulham